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PEN celebrates International Translation Day

Monday 30 September 2013 - 1:00am

On International Translation Day, PEN International celebrates the work of translators around the world and calls for members to take action for the release of two Turkish translators held in pre-trial detention for nearly two years.

Translation and Linguistic Rights
30 September marks International Translation Day, celebrated each year on the feast of St Jerome, the Bible translator and patron saint of translators. Translation and translators play a fundamental role in PEN International’s mandate. PEN's Girona Manifesto specifically calls attention to the importance of translation in protecting and advancing linguistic rights:

8. The translation of texts, especially the great works of various cultures represents a very important element in the necessary process of greater understanding and respect among human beings.

As PEN's Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee Chair, Josep-Maria Terricabras Nogueras writes today, translation also plays a fundamental role in the advancement of understanding and peace. At this year’s PEN International Congress in Iceland, the TLRC passed five resolutions relating to translation and linguistic rights. They can be accessed here.

PEN Centres Celebrate
Today, PEN Centres around the world are celebrating International Translation Day. Belarusian PEN is holding a special joint event with the e-journal of translated literature, For the third year running, Belarusian PEN will today award the PrajdziSvet Prize for the best translated literary works of 2012. Meanwhile, PEN Langue d'Oc has published an e-book of translations by Occitan writers to celebrate. In London, English PEN is holding the International Translation Day symposium at the British Library where Ngugi Wa Thiong'o earlier today praised translation as "the factor with the single greatest impact on the history of ideas." English PEN member, Isabel del Rio, who is participating in the event explores translation in a blog here to mark the day.

Take action
On International Translation Day, we also remember our translator colleagues who are persecuted for their work. Around the world, from conflict zones to courts, translators and interpreters are subjected to profound mistrust, discrimination and persecution for their translation work. This year, PEN International calls on you to take action on the case of writer, translator and activist Ayşe Berktay and translator Deniz Zarakolu who remain in detention pending completion of their trial almost two years on from their arrest. To read more about their case, please click here.

To find out more about PEN's International's work on Translation and Linguistic Rights, please explore the Linguistic Rights section of our website or contact Sarah Clarke, International Policy and Advocacy Officer, at